A group of revellers were rushed to hospital after taking a psychedelic drug rarely seen before by Nottingham's emergency services. The dealer who supplied them is awaiting sentence and the city's drug services are relaying the lessons learnt. REBECCA SHERDLEY and MICHAEL GREENWELL report
WHEN 10 people were rushed to hospital in the early hours of November 16 last year, medics found themselves dealing with something new.
They are trained to deal with overdoses and side-effects from a variety of drugs, but the symptoms exhibited by this group of people were different and alarming.
They were suffering vivid hallucinations, extreme anxiety and some of their heart rates were at worryingly high levels.
Some of the group – including six students from the University of Nottingham – said they had taken 2C-B, a drug "rarely seen" in the city.
It has been described as a cross between ecstasy and LSD, which propels users into an energetic state mixed with hallucinations and disorientation.
It is often dealt in capsules containing a dose of the drug, but the 10 people, who would eventually be hospitalised, may have taken 2C-B in an unmeasured, powder form.
Inspector Nigel English, of Notts Police drugs directorate, said: "2C-B is a synthetic drug, and one that we have rarely come across in the last few years.
"It could be that those who took it were unfamiliar with the drug and unaware of its potential side-effects or safe dosage levels.
"It may be that they mistook it for another more common drug, like ecstasy or amphetamine, and assumed it could be taken in a similar quantity."
The night had started at a house before moving to a Lenton venue for a club night called Firefly.
The Marcus Garvey Centre, or The Ballroom, is a venue popular with University of Nottingham students and dance music fans throughout the city.
But before long, staff at the venue had alerted police and emergency services because of the group's panicked and unusual behaviour.
Two of the 10 who were rushed to hospital were transferred to the high dependency unit of Nottingham's Queen's Medical Centre.
Their condition was closely monitored over the next 48 hours.
Drug-dealer Andrew Brewer, 24, of Ellesmere Road, West Bridgford, was among the 10.
He had also supplied ketamine to the group, a dangerous tranquilliser more commonly used among recreational drug users and more well known to hospital staff.
Emergency services, Notts Police, the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership worked together to ensure that more people were not endangered.
There were fears that a batch of 2C-B was circulating in the city.
Steve Youdell, Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership, said: "To the best of our knowledge the use of the drug 2C-B in Nottingham is very rare.
"The incident in November is the first if its kind that has been brought to our attention.
"Following the information that was passed on to us by Notts Police we issued an alert to all the agencies in the city that are in contact, or potentially in contact with drug users, which is a standard procedure.
"This alert contained the facts as we understood them and asked services to offer harm reduction advice as appropriate in the unlikely event that any of their clients come across this drug."
Drug education charities which advise and support people who misuse drugs, particularly ones who work with clubbers, were urged to be vigilant.
Manager Neil Brooks, of city-based charity Chill Out Sound Support, said: "Ketamine, ecstasy, MDMA and cocaine are the drugs we commonly encounter and cause the most problems.
"We were alerted at the time of this but have not encountered 2C-B since."
Andrew Brewer is due to be sentenced at Nottingham Crown Court, on October 27, for 11 counts of supplying drugs.
The six University of Nottingham students have since graduated.
None of the group except Brewer were charged with drugs offences.
A University of Nottingham spokesman said: "We have liaised closely with Notts Police, both during the incident and since, and have co-operated fully with their investigation.
"The supplier of the drug, Andrew Brewer, is not and has never been a student of the University of Nottingham.
"Six of the other 10 individuals involved are former students of the university who graduated in summer 2009.
"While we do not discuss individual discipline cases, the university does not condone the supply or possession of any drugs.
We have very firm policies to deal with such offences, including sanctions such as fines, suspension and exclusion.
"Police and/or court action is also taken into consideration and in this case the university is satisfied that these six students were dealt with appropriately by Notts Police without court proceedings being initiated.
"Appropriate advice and support on the misuse of drugs is provided for by the University Student Services in conjunction with the Students' Union.
"This work is further supported by the work of our off campus manager for student affairs who regularly advises our off-campus student community."
Melanie Renwick, of the University of Nottingham Students' Union, said: "We do not encounter any students who come to the Students' Union looking for support or advise if they have a drug problem.
"Our Student Advice and Representation Centre would be the first port of call if they did and they would be advised according to their particular circumstances."
REBECCA SHERDLEY and MICHAEL GREENWELL
October 17 2009
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